Monday, December 12, 2005

Philosopher Forgets What Metaphysics Means

Below is my annotated version of an op-ed piece by Douglas Groothius, professor of philosophy at the Denver Seminary; originally published in the Rocky Mountain News December 10.

Design critics often employ straw men.

Ever since President Bush advocated that the intelligent design critique of Darwinism be allowed in public schools, a riot of public pronouncements has condemned the design perspective as retrograde, unscientific and downright ominous. A number of logical fallacies are routinely employed in efforts to debunk intelligent design. In such cases, intelligent design is criticized and dismissed on the basis of an argument that is illogical and therefore false. One need not be an expert in Darwinian biology to sniff out these basic blunders. In this brief space I will note just one: the straw man argument. In the straw man argument a position is made to look ridiculous and then the caricature is knocked down. Intelligent design is repeatedly presented as a plan to institute religious and unscientific dogma in the public schools. The facts, however, speak otherwise. Intelligent design's think tank, The Discovery Institute, says this: "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." The controlling premise is the effort to discern the best explanation for a natural phenomenon, given the available empirical evidence: a fundamental precept of scientific investigation.

[Since the best explanation for any phenomenon -- i.e., the one that has nothing that itself is not falseifiable -- can never have a posited first cause, a designer is not part of such an explanation. The unnecessary introduction of a metaphysical agent (the designer) means you are trying to explain a natural phenomenon with a supernatural cause.]

Unlike creationism, intelligent design makes no appeal to religious texts, but invokes empirical evidence, as well as the principles of design detection, which are already used in sciences such as cryptography, archaeology, forensics, and in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

[This is plain false. What is looked for in most of the above fields are patterns that MAY be suggestive of artificiality. When natural patterns mimic these, they are never proclaimed by these fields to be anything but natural. This is a begged question fallacy. The fact of nature mimicking artificiality is taken not as evidence, but as PROOF, by God, that Old Nobodaddy did it.]

Groothius's appeal to SETI research is particularly egregious, pointing either to ignorance of the field or the outright mendacity that permeates Intelligent Design. Seti is not looking for Carl Sagan and Jodi Foster's series of primes. All they need is a continuous radio signal on a single frequency from a single point. Such signals are not known to occur in nature, and thus would have to be built by some one.]Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski argues that certain features of the natural world exhibit patterns that are best explained on the basis of design (or intelligent causes), rather than on the basis of mindless nature (or unintelligent causes).

[Not much of a mathematician. Let's see: I have one apple, go to the tree and pick another apple, and now I have two apples. That state of being in which I have two apples simply by picking another is way too deep to be anything but by some one's design! All levels of complexity are simply variations and extensions on the act of picking a second apple.]

For example, even if we didn't know from history that an eccentric artist was responsible, we would identify the presidential faces carved into Mount Rushmore as designed because natural patterns of erosion cannot explain them. The complexity of the phenomenon fits a specifiable pattern: the faces of the presidents, which we recognize from other sources. Similarly, archaeologists distinguish ancient artifacts from naturally occurring objects on the basis of design detection. The complexity discovered in certain objects fits a specifiable pattern indicating that intelligent causation was at work. Intelligent design proponents argue that some organisms indicate specified complexity, and that these organisms are better explained by intelligent causes than by natural law and chance alone. The DNA code is an example of specified complexity. It contains a language that is not reducible to the laws of chemistry and physics, which do not specify its content. The odds against all the factors required for DNA to come together through the operations of mere matter and chance are vanishingly small.

[Bullshit. The formation of DNA is a chemical reaction, like any other. It is not even unique in being self-replicating. If one chemical reaction is evidence for a designer, then all are. Singling out DNA is meaningless in advancing the argument from design.]

Similarly, biochemist Michael Behe argues in Darwin's Black Box that certain molecular machines are irreducibly complex, which means that all of its basic parts are required for its function, as with a mousetrap. The bacterial flagellum, for example, is a highly complex outboard motor attached to a bacterium. A gradual process of mere chance and natural law is insufficient to explain this irreducible complexity, Behe argues, since the motor function could not exist in evolutionary predecessors that lacked any of the many necessary parts. However, Darwinists insist that intelligent design invokes God to cover ignorance of natural processes. This is exactly wrong. The design inference is not based on ignorance, but on increased knowledge of the microscopic realm and on the well-established principles of design detection.

[Sad. He's a professor of philosophy, yet has no understanding of the argument from design or refutations of it from Hume on.]

When Darwinists refuse to admit intelligent cause as a possible explanation for specified complexity, this only reveals that they define science such that intelligent causes are disallowed in principle.

[Who says refuse? The question is not whether such an explanation is a possibility, but whether such an explanation is 1) necessary; and 2) valid as science. It is incredible to me how some people keep their jobs.]

But this approach is not a discovery of science itself. It is rather a philosophical commitment to materialism (the belief that reality is reducible to impersonal physical laws).

[The professor forgets that there are two ways to view the world, and science is one of them. Nothing that is not science is a fit subject for science. Michael Behe famously declared astrology to be science while under oath.]

May these few considerations spur readers to assess rationally intelligent design's actual arguments and to avoid the logical fallacies so often employed in place of intelligent thought about life's origins.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Disingenuous Mendacity

Earlier this week, Laurie Goodstein wrote a piece for the New York Times headlined "Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker." In the piece, Ms. Goodstein used the following line:

"In Kansas last month, the board of education voted that students should be exposed to critiques of evolution like intelligent design."

The ID scam artists don't want you to know that. In fact, they will deny it with every fiber of their being.

"Actually, the Board did no such thing," wrote John G. West of the Discovery Instutute in answer to the Times story. "The Kansas science standards encourage students to learn about scientific criticisms of Darwin's theory. They do not ask for the teaching of alternatives to Darwin's theory such as intelligent design."

To what "alternatives" might the slippery Mr. West be referring? And what, pray tell, are those "scientific criticisms" of "Darwin's theory"? The Modern Synthesis is what is being taught pretty much everywhere these days. Between Huxley, Dobzhanski, and Mayr, among others, the work of Mendel and of Fisher has been pretty well integrated into Darwin's, plugging the "holes" in Darwin's version dreamed up in the fevered halucinations of glossolalics and snake handlers. Perhaps Mr. West is referring to the endosymbiotic theory advanced by Lynn Margulis? That's not really a challenge to Darwin, though Ms. Margulis has famously couched it in those terms.

If it's none of those -- or one or two other theories like the null mutation hypothesis that have been incorporated quite easily into the Modern Synthesis -- then what are the IDers on about?

Ms. Goodstein shows that everybody's got their number.

Derek Davis, director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, wishes the IDers would just get off it and admit that they are talking about God.

"[T]hey are, and everybody knows they are," said Mr. Davis in Ms. Goodstein's piece. "I just think we ought to quit playing games. It's a religious worldview that's being advanced."

Baylor, it will be remembered, is the Baptist school that hired on a new president in the '90s to try and get the school back to its No Dancin', Swearin', nor Chewin' roots. Part of that strategy involved hiring William Dembski to head the Polanyi Institute, an entity within the University dedicated to getting the school away from Bacon's position and back to Thomas Aquinus's. The furor and embarassment from within the facultyreached such a pitch that the Institute was folded, Dembski was given a make-work slot for the duration of his contract, and everybody prayed hard that their research dinero would not dry up completely in the mean time.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


The Washington, D.C. based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation has released it's first assessment of the state of state science education standards in five years, and finds it in no better shape now than then. This is, they find, in spite of the fact that "the majority of states have reworked, or crafted from scratch, their science standards over the past five years."

They continue: "The public's anxiety about the future of its scientific prowess is palpable—and reasonable. "

States that received an "A" grade (on an A-F scale, just like the ones the schools use for their students) include California, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Mexico, Indiana and -- go figure! -- South Carolina. Virginia has improved from a D in 2000, and New Mexico from an F.

Except for South Carolina, it will be noted that all are either blue or purple states.

The criteria used by the Foundation are as follows:

  • Do the standards contain clear and fair expectations by grade level for students?
  • Are the standards organized in a sensible way, both showing logical progression from grade to grade and easily navigated so teachers, parents, and the public can understand?
  • Is there an appropriate amount of science content, and if so, do the standards outline the best approach to share that content?
  • Are the expectations outlined specific enough, yet set high aims that will equip students with the science skills they need for college?
  • Are the standards appropriately serious, or do they incorporate pseudo-scientific fads or politics?

One of the main reasons states received failing grades was described as "Missing facts and concepts that are integral to physics, chemistry, and biology."

Concepts like the Big Bang and Evolution. Evolution was, in fact, singled out for special mention by the Foundation in its press release on the study. In the 2000 study, 12 states received an F in the teaching of evolution. Five years later, there remain 12 states in the failing column. Kansas got an F- Minus!

In an early draft of the report's section dealing with Kansas, the new Kansas standard for evolution received a score of 3 points out of 3 possible. The study's authors noted the diselection of a number of the 1999 board's fundies and subsequent improvement in the decisions of the board vis a vis the science standard. The authors expressed concern, though, that the fundies were again ascendant, and thus the new standard was in danger. A note appended just before publication states:

"Note added In Proof: The early warnings have been
justified. Kansas has adopted standards whose
treatment of evolutionary material has been radically
compromised. The effect transcends evolution,
It now makes a mockery of the very definition
of science. The grade for Kansas is accordingly
reduced to 'F.'
(My emphasis.)

* * * * *

Americans like to think they are fundamentally a fair people. As a group, they also manifest a level of scientific literacy slightly below that of a Yanomamo warrior with a nose full of ebene. When polled, Americans answer questions framed in the form "Should all sides be taught in the evolution/Intelligent Design debate" with a resounding "Yes!" So when a scientist gets fired for allowing a sneak attack on science, they see it as The Man coming down on some nebish who was just trying to be fair.

This scenario has been playing out for the last year or so over the desision by Richard M. von Sternberg (a.k.a. Rick Sternberg), editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington -- an obscure journal published by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History -- to publish a paper by Stephen Meyer, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute (DI). Sternberg seemed nonplussed when his collegues at the Smithsonian got purturbed. This either makes him the Grand Potentate of the Disingenuous, or plain stupid. Given that he is an anti-evolutionist who serves on the editorial board of a six-day creationist journal, it's incredible that he even got that job!

Von Sternberg's job status put him in limbo as far as getting relief from the slings and arrows of outraged colleagues went. He complained to the Office of Special Counsel -- the guys who make sure that whistle-blowers aren't targeted -- that the Smithsonian took his keys away and the real scientists at the Institute wouldn't play with him anymore. The OSC found that although in its opinion von Sternberg had indeed been wronged, his employer hadn't wronged him, so there was nothing they could do about it. Von Sternberg's actual employer, it seemed, was not the Smithsonian, but the National Institutes of Health.

Von Sternberg did manage to gain some sympathy, however. The Washington Post began to look almost like its Moonie rival. One of teh Post's sports writers, fercrisake, had to pipe in with her two cents worth, prompting the following exchange:

Ms. Jenkins,

ID is not creationism? What is it, then?

The contention that because something is too complex to be explained other than with reference to a "designer" is a form of logical fallacy known as the “argument from design.” The argument from design is, in turn, a form of the argument from ignorance: It is unknown whether x is true, therefore y must be true. Inferring a designer of something means that the thing was, in fact, created. Something that exists and was designed had to be designed by someone. That someone is the thing's creator. Either the creator is God, or the creator was created. It is an infinite regression unless the assumption is made that the designer is God.

This is the ultimate begged question.

As for relying on Philip Johnson, now you are committing the fallacy known as “appeal to authority.” Johnson is not an authority in biology, no matter what he tells his faithful. Using him to bolster your essay is specious. Then you drag out Jeffrey Schwartz to mouth one of the ID’s most abused straw men, “random processes.” There is nothing random about evolution. There are different pathways of development, any or all of which can and will be exploited by living things. These pathways are dictated by endpoints of previous pathways. In other words, all possible pathways not originating from these endpoints are foreclosed. A few of these pathways will be successful; most will not. The successful pathways will be those that best meet the strictures of the environment in which these pathways arise. This is not random. It is stochastic. That word does not mean, as one of your colleagues at the New York Times actually stated in print, “conjectural.” (Walter Goodman. Dec. 19, 1997. New York Times, E34. He was quoting William F. Buckley, who knew what it meant.) Nor is stochastic a synonym for random.

Schwartz parades out another old creationist straw man, the equation of natural selection with evolution. You used the term “neo-Darwinism,” so I suggest you learn what that means before you buy anything Schwartz says, especially when chasing his straw man with his creationist torch leads him to another argument from ignorance.

Are you serious about this, or are you just angling for a job at the Moonie paper?

Bill Rozell
Carmichael, CA


Hi Bill,

First, thanks for reading the Post.

Yes, the founding father of ID is, in fact, a creationist. But what's interesting is that many distinguished theorists agree that you don't have to be a creationist or even a theist, to see highly organized structures that makes evolution problematic as a sole explanation.

THAT was my point, and I don't rely on Johnson to make it.

Increasingly they use the word "design" to describe what they see in the complex but highly organized structure of cells, proteins, etc.

Example: the current issue of Science magazine apparently has an interesting article, which I haven't read. Another reader writes me this:

"The most recent issue of Science (August 26) has an article about estimating the number of species of microbes in the soil. The authors conclude that the actual number of species in typical soil is a thousand times greater than was expected. They say that there is no theory to guide making this fundamental observation about evolution of the diversity of species in nature.
The office in which I work as a program manager in genomics and structural biology at the Department of Energy began the human genome project, and then turned to the genomes of microbes. Many unexpected discoveries have been made thanks to the new technologies that came about through this and related programs. We now recognize that species of microbes don't compete, as Darwinian theory says, but cooperate in tightly organized communities. Reproduction rates in these communities are as slow as possible; fitness is measured by reproducing as little as possible, not as much as possible, as Darwin's theory led biologists to assume until recent times."

So that's the kind of thing some non-creationist IDers are talking about. No, there is little hard science thus far to support ID, and it's surely not ready for classroom teaching. However, it's a field of growing inquiry. Whether we like it or not.
Best, Sally Jenkins


Good Morning, Sally,

Thank you for a more than timely reply.

"But what's interesting is that many distinguished theorists agree that you don't have to be a creationist or even a theist, to see highly organized structures that makes evolution problematic as a sole explanation."

First causes are metaphysics, not science. As I demonstrated, it is logically impossible to believe a system was designed without positing a designer, and that designer was either designed itself or is God. Therefor when one begins as a scientist to put one's self forward as an adherent of ID and acting in ones profession from that position, one ceases to be a scientist.

There is no such thing as a "non-creationist IDer".

Your other reader wrote:

"'They say that there is no theory to guide making this fundamental observation about evolution of the diversity of species in nature. . .

"'We now recognize that species of microbes don't compete, as Darwinian theory says, but cooperate in tightly organized communities. Reproduction rates in these communities are as slow as possible; fitness is measured by reproducing as little as possible, not as much as possible, as Darwin's theory led biologists to assume until recent times.'"

Evolution is not in question. It is still the only game in town. Its mechanism is open to debate, but not its existance. The most public recent debate was between Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould. The debate was over the level at which competition was taking place. What a diverse grouping of non-competing microbes would show is not that another element is necessary. If it shows anything at all, it shows that Dawkins may be right.

Dawkins is known for his "selfish gene" model of evolution, wherein organisms are vehicles which genes or communities of genes use to compete. Autonomous pieces of genetic material called prions are readily exchanged among microbes and viruses within a given population. To a population geneticist, the definition of evolution is change in the relative frequencies of genes within a population. Period. "Nature, red in tooth and claw" is not necessary. In Dawkins' model, once enough copies of enough prions are distributed widely enough in a population -- even a population made up of things less related to each other taxonomically than I am to the mold on my shower grout -- then cooperation is going to rear its ugly head.

"Increasingly they use the word "design" to describe what they see in the complex but highly organized structure of cells, proteins, etc."

Scientists use words metaphorically all the time. I just used the word "use" to describe what genes do with the organisms in which they occur. The word implies goal-directed behavior, which is not what I meant. "Design," when used by scientists, does not mean they are saying or even implying actual design. If they are, they have gone beyond the pale and will be checked. Hard. Ask Richard von Sternberg, formerly of the Smithsonian.

The fact that a system runs in such a way that what Darwin said does not fully explain it does not mean that system didn't evolve naturally. Poor old "Darwin," as used by IDers, is an effigy, another creationist straw man. Natural selection is just part of the whole mechanism, and maybe not even the most important part. Darwin himself recognized this weakness, though he appears to have missed the implications in the copy Mendel's work found recently in his library. If you read the message you quoted from your other reader carefully, you will see that even he does not contend that evolution is not a fact. And as I have shown, he is mistaken in his contention that conventional evolutionary ideas have not produced a mechanism by which apparently unrelated organisms do not appear to compete.

Thanks again,

Bill Rozell

Hi again,

Well, thanks for the very lively discussion. But I think you'll find that there are some theorists who are evolutionists and yet are intrigued by notions of intrinsic intelligence. They don't find the two utterly incompatible.

By the way, it's interesting to me that merely discussing ID is viewed as an endorsement of it. That seems wrong. As neuroscientist Leon Cooper, a Nobel laureate at Brown University. told Willima Safire (sic) last week about ID and Evolution, ''If we could all lighten up a bit perhaps, we could have some fun in the classroom discussing the evidence and the proposed explanations -- just as we do at scientific conferences.''

Best, Sally

PS -- I was utterly appalled at what happened to Richard von Sternberg, formerly of the Smithsonian.

There are lots of perfectly legitimate people in the science community who acknowledge that while ID is not an answer, some of its proponents are asking critical questions.


Hello again,

For the lighter view, try the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

This is serious. Deadly serious. IDers are American Taliban, intent on turning our schools into madrassas. A fundamentalist is a fandamentalist is a fundamentalist.

And you've just handed them a victory. They can -- and will -- now claim that the Washinton Post endorses ID. Katherine Graham is most likely spinning in her grave.

As for von Sternberg, ask him why he's so cozy with those six day creationists over at William Jennings Bryan College that he's on the masthead of their journal. What would happen to you in your job if you were caught writing columns dictated by Al Davis?

Thanks yet again,


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fundies Attack

The right, it seems, believes nobody's views but its own should be heard.

Days after the news that his University of Kansas class "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies" has been cancelled at his request, University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki was attacked and beaten badly enough to be sent to the hospital by a pair of good Christians.

John Altevogt, Mirecki's most vocal fundie critic, showed his true colors when he piped in with, "[Mirecki] has very little credibility left. The one thing that could save his bacon is to become a martyr of sorts, or to elicit sympathy from being the victim rather than the persecutor."

The course in question, it will be remembered, engendered much howling from the fundies when Mirecki expressed his personal views on a listserver for KU atheists and agnostics. A fundie spy got hold of Mirecki's intemperate email and ran with it to the press. Other than changing the title -- which Mirecki had described on the list as a "nice slap in their [fundies'] big fat face" -- the course was set to go forward. Chancellor Robert Hemenway -- who had been right behind Mirecki all the time up until the email came out -- clucked and distanced himself enough from the enterprise but he obviously felt nothing further needed to be done. But Mirecki said that the atmosphere had been poisoned -- and maybe he was right.

The course was not dreamed up out of the blue. It was a logical reaction to the Kansas school board's reversal of it's earlier reversal on the teaching of evolution and ID.

Kansas School Board's History of Promoting Pseudoscience

The first volley in this particular theater of the culture war was fired in August of 1999. The Kansas Board of Education voted to delete evolution from the state science curriculum. The board, in a 6 to 4 vote, resolved to "reject evolution as a scientific principle." Also rejected was the Big Bang. All of those members of the board who voted for rejection were Republicans (though not all the board's Republicans voted for it.) Governor Bill Graves -- himself a Republican -- had threatened to dissolve the board if they messed with the standards.

It seemed to the board, maybe, a benign action to take, the rejection of evolution as science. The teaching of evolution was not expressly forbidden in science classes, even though the board had declared evolution not science; nor was the teaching of creationism required.

The public universities in Kansas were unanimous in their opposition to the changes then, as they are now to the latest ones. The presidents of all six sent a letter to the board before the August 11, 1999 meeting proclaiming that the rejection of evolution would "set Kansas back a century and give hard-to-find science teachers no choice but to pursue other career fields or assignments outside of Kansas. "

The boards decision held until the next election, when, in a pattern that has become familiar in locations as far apart as Roseville, CA and Dover, PA, a number of the members who had voted for rejection of evolution found themselves diselected. People don't tend to show up for school board elections unless they have nothing better to do. But apparently enough other stuff was being voted on at the same time, or the electorate of Kansas was sufficiently embarrassed by the actions of their duly elected board, that a large enough turnout occurred to dilute the votes of the glossolalics, the snake handlers, and the Baptists. Evolution was restored.

Fast forward a few years and a veterinarian, Dr. Steve Abrams, an undiselected board member from Arkansas City from the old days, found himself board chairman. Abrams, a six day creationist, has stated in a school board meeting that it impossible to reconcile a belief in the Bible to evolution. He has also declared the works of Ken Keasey, Richard Wright, and Nobel laureate in literature Toni Morrison to be pornography, and decried their use in the school curriculum in Kansas. Abrams stated his position in "A column about Kansas Science Standards" (sic) on November 14. The document positively drips disingenuosity, claiming that the board has no intention of "trying to insert the supernatural into the Science classroom."

And then he drags out the fundie straw men.

"The critics also claim that in the scientific community, there is no controversy about evolution," he writes.

This is code, meaning that because the exact proportions of the ingredients of the mechanism of evolution are debated, as well as at what level -- organism, gene, population -- evolution operates, then the whole thing is "just a theory."

The new standard for evolution states, at Benchmark 3, Indicator 7, that the curriculum "explains proposed scientific explanations of the origin of life as well as scientific criticisms of those explanations." (My emphasis.)

Does this mean they are to teach that Gould, et. al., worked from the premise that evolution operated primarily at the level of the organism, but also at the level of populations and sub-populations, whereas Dawkins works from the primacy of the gene?

No. Abrams means that those who believe that a talking snake got us all kicked out of the garden should have their "theory" that, while living organisms can change over time so that we have Chihuahuas and Greyhounds and Newfoundlands where once we had wolves, these animals never shared a common ancestor with the cat or the weasil or the bear. Each was created in its own "kind," These kinds do not conform to Linnean taxonomy's species, and can include whole taxonomic genera or families. Kinds are variable to one degree or another but will never move beyond certain limits.

No legitimate scientist holds this view. Not one. People with advanced degrees are pointed to all the time who do, but they always fall into one of three categories: those who have degrees in some field other than science (lawyers are common); those who do not work in the field in which they have these advanced degrees, but make their money lecturing to church groups and whomever else will listen on the insufficiency of the "theory of evolution;" and those who worked in their fields long enough to get tenured positions from which they cannot be pried.

That is what the academics of Kansas are up against.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Two Sides?

In the dog days of summer just past, our fearless leader famously has chimed in on the Intelligent Design debate, declaring that both sides should be taught in our schools. He was grateful for the opportunity to avoid questions about his reluctance follow through on his promise to can the leaker of Valerie Plame's identity after it became abundantly clear that the leaker was none other than the man often cited as Bush's brain, C.R.E.E.P. veteran ratfucker Karl Rove. Baby Bush did not elaborate at length, and so it must be concluded from his silence that he buys the claims of ID's proponents, the wedgie fomenters at the Discovery Institute, that ID is science and should be taught as such.

Let's examine that contention.

Francis Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton had argued for the primacy of observation in articulating laws of nature. At some point, the repeated observation of specific events triggered by specific proximate causes justified generalities being applied.

Enter David Hume, fork in hand.

There are two discreet columns that human inquiry may be divided into: relations of ideas and matters of fact.

To Hume, anything that dealt with what he called "the relation of ideas" was largely a question of definition, subject to one of Aristotle First Principles -- the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) -- and thus generally assumed. Triangles, by definition, are two dimensional objects with three sides. Euclid already did the work. It is axiomatic --universally agreed -- what a triangle is, and what it is not, so no formal proof is necessary. Indeed, any attempt would produce only circular statements.

Matters of fact, on the other hand, are observed individual phenomena. Before a determination is made about a given property, behavior or aspect of one of these matters of fact, they retain the potentiality to both confirm and falsify any statement made about them.

And thus a problem arises, named (but not by Hume) the Problem of Induction.

The Problem of Induction raises its ugly head because the two tines of Hume's Fork are separate. Observed phenomena cannot be made to imply a law, since relations of ideas transcend matters of fact. No matter how many times you repeat an experiment, or record an observation of a phenomenon, it cannot be said with certainty that the result will be the same next time.

This looked for the longest time like an insurmountable problem, leading to assertions that there is a Metaphysical Principle lurking behind science.

Popper's answer to the Problem of Induction was to demonstrate that the separation of the tines of the fork was illusory. The laws arising from the data sets of science are themselves falsifiable. They are contingent upon the contradictory fact never arising. Because laws -- and theories, and hypotheses -- are contingent, the validity of a law, a theory or an hypothesis cannot be inferred by the empirical evidence, only its falsity, and that inference is deductive. The moment a fact arises contradicting an assertion in science, the assertion is toast.

Another problem is solved by Popper here, the problem of what is and what is not science -- what is known as the Problem of Demarcation. Popper thought this was the most important epistemological question in the philosophy of science. If one looks at any aspect of a hypothesis, a theory, or an assertion; and no way to falsify that hypothesis, theory or assertion can be found; then one is not dealing with science.

Intelligent Design, is based solidly on an unfalsifiable proposition: since phenomenon X looks to any undefined observer to be too complex to explain by natural means, then it was designed.

From this proposition follows a conclusion: somebody designed phenomenon X. And from this conclusion arises a question: who/what designed it?

Now another problem arises, that of infinite regression. Something so complex as to be able to design a natural system must itself be designed. Etc., etc., etc. And the only way out of this infinite regression is to declare at some point that "Gawd done it!"

So, now we've established that a designer is either a logical fallacy or a violation of the establishment clause.